Magpie Tendencies, Anderson Gallery
January 18 - February 22, 2013
Bell jar installation. Photo: Rachel Buse
Review by Rachel
February 19, 2013
Prepare for an eyeful. The Anderson this month has been dipped in sepia tones and transformed into a Victorian era cabinet of curiosities. Artist, Jennifer Argus, is playing out her obsessive fantasies without restraint. There are thousands of details in the show. The walls have been intricately wallpapered. Tiny houses under glass are raised up on stilts, inviting you to peak in on the worlds inside. Bell jars, a library card catalog and Japanese jewelry boxes also house various arrangements and combinations of this artist’s particular collection.
(BELOW) View of Magpie Tendencies when you enter the gallery. Photo: Rich Sanders/ Sanders Photographics
Beeswax Cemetery. Photo: Rachel Buse
There is something about this show that really “bugs” me. The houses are coated in beeswax. Hundreds of small sculptures lined up along the wall and within the glass cases are cast from beeswax. The theme of multiplication is prevelent. The power of many over one. And what does it mean to be one of many? How does one adorn oneself in an effort to stand out among the pack?
Wallpaper installation with custom bottom boarder. Photo: Rachel Buse
Argus’s narratives seem to come alive before my eyes. They especially do in the two jerky animation shorts looping in the back. The characters start to interact and develop competitive egos. Drama ensues while the audio of a continuous circus score hypnotizes you. There is something about a moving image that takes you further into her fantasy. Realize in all of this make believe and magic that everything is very much dead. The dominant personalities are a farce. Argus is playing dress up and decorating.
COLORED ART SANDS borrowed from State Historical Society Photo: Rachel Buse
Two of the vignettes were designed around sand art and 100-year-old taxidermy birds borrowed from the private collection at the State Historical Society. Another story takes on a Plant of the Apes type of situation. Sealing these small narratives under glass surrounded by rich old wood, or wood made to look rich and old, elevates the delicate nature of the objects on display. However, modern touches like brightly colored felt balls and plastic mini-stripper figurines take the work somewhere else, somewhere silly.
After a full hour of marinating in this exhibition, I’m looking forward to the closing reception this Friday. Jennifer Argus will be in town talking about the show. There is a lovely publication made for this exhibition with two essays responding to Argus’s work. Also in the back is The Wonder Room built by Drake Students. The show is rich, entertaining and impressive. Don’t deny your eyes.
SHOW CLOSES FRIDAY 22. Closing reception and gallery talk info here.